Vipers set to strike Smokies

The Trail Smoke Eaters look to de-fang a vaunted Vernon Vipers squad tonight at the Cominco Arena.

The Trail Smoke Eaters look to de-fang a vaunted Vernon Vipers squad tonight at the Cominco Arena, and, at the same time, find an antidote for their prolonged losing streak.

The Smokies will need to neutralize a potent Vipers offence, much like they did the West Kelowna Warriors Monday. Despite a heartbreaking 4-3 overtime loss, Trail put in a good effort, leading the Warriors 3-1 with just one minute and 23 seconds to play in regulation.

“We played well enough to win,” said Smoke Eater coach Nick Deschenes. “But give Kelowna credit they pressed hard right to the end. There’s a certain way to play to win, and that’s what our group is learning, and the biggest thing is that we learn these lessons and we don’t just let them repeat themselves.”

Vernon has lost 2-of-3 games since a 6-3 victory over the Smoke Eaters in Vernon Dec. 13, including a 7-2 setback to the Powell River Kings in their last match Dec. 21. However, an extended Christmas break and a healthy line up, particularly with the return of Castlegar native Ryan Renz’s who missed 22 games with injury, should make the task even more daunting for the home team.

Yet, rather than putting an emphasis on defence, the Smokies are going on the offensive.

“Where we are at now is in attack mode, I like to call it,” said Deschenes. “We are going to push the pace against these teams. They may be expecting an easy game, and they’re expecting to score lots of goals, and this is where we are going to take that vulnerability and hopefully capitalize and shock some teams.”

The Vipers hold a two-point lead over the Warriors for second spot in the Interior division, and are five points back of division leaders Penticton. The snakes are led by Mike McNicholas, who sits in fourth place in BCHL scoring with 19-32-51, Demico Hannoun, and Mason Blacklock. The trio combined for six points in their last meeting with Trail all netting a goal and an assist.

The Smokies meanwhile have just three 20-year-old players remaining in their lineup in defenceman Braden Pears, leading scorer Travis Stephens, and goaltender Dustin Nikkel. Although the team can carry a maximum of five 20-year-olds, Deschenes says that it is unlikely the team will look for any over-age players before the Jan. 10 trade deadline, but rather enhance the opportunity of the remaining players.

“The benefit we can give our 20 year olds right now, being put in that leadership role, is the opportunity to play substantial minutes, which I think both of them appreciate, and to work with them and help promote them for their opportunities for next season,” said Deschenes.

The team is building for the future, having traded veterans like Curtis Toneff, Brendan Lamont, Cody Bardock, and Valik Chichkin for young skaters with potential.  However, that lack of experience may have cost them on Monday.

Trail was less than 90 seconds away from ending a 12-game losing streak, but the Warriors nipped any celebration in the bud narrowing it to 3-2 with 1:23 to play then tying the game 26 seconds later, before winning it in overtime.

“The fact that we can compete for 60 minutes, and responding to the (13-5) loss in Chilliwack, there is a lot more optimism, I guess you can say. It’s a new year and we had a good crowd and good support; I think it was a good hockey game.”

Trail will look to right the ship tonight when they host the Vernon Vipers at 7:30 p.m. at the Cominco Arena. Trail will then travel to West Kelowna for a rematch with the Warriors on Saturday.

Just Posted

Fire at the former Alpine Disposal, and now GFL recycling facility, on Hwy 22 South of Trail. Photo taken just before 6 p.m. Monday June 21. Photo: John Piccolo
Update: Industrial fire rages outside Trail on Monday

Photos: The fire is reported to be at the GFL recycling facility

“We all need to consider our lives and how we managed to make our way through society to achieve order and success and how it is that others end up in chaos.” Photo: Dave Lowe/Unsplash
‘There but for fortune, may go you and I … ‘

“Short stays on acute psychiatric units with minimal follow up care are not sufficient,” says Crain.

“Classes of 2020 and 2021 will have a remarkable distinction in history, and this will be their story to tell.” Photo: Tai’s Captures/Unsplash
‘Not sorry’

Letter to the Editor from Jennifer Sirges of Trail

Fruitvale Village Council outlined their Beaver Valley Middle School development plan to the community in September 2020. Photo: Jim Bailey
Province to fund Fruitvale affordable housing project

Lower Columbia Affordable Housing Society will manage construction of 28 new housing units

Kootenay forests are unusually dry for this time of year. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
On summer’s cusp, Kootenay forests are at record dry levels

Southeast Fire Centre says 4 months of unusually dry weather have had effect on the region’s forests

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

The former Kamloops Indian Residential School on the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc reserve. (Allen Douglas/Kamloops This Week)
Tk’emlups preparing for archaeological work at B.C. residential school site where remains found

The 215 graves are, to the band’s knowledge, undocumented deaths for which it is still collecting records

Fans watch the warm-up before Game 6 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens in NHL playoff hockey action Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Montreal. Quebec’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions will allow 2,500 fans to attend the game for the first time in fourteen months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Two-thirds of Canadians say governments shouldn’t lift all COVID-19 restrictions

Poll reports Canadians who gained pandemic weight say they have gained 16 pounds on average

Paul Bernardo is shown in this courtroom sketch during Ontario court proceedings via video link in Napanee, Ont., on October 5, 2018. Teen killer and serial rapist Paul Bernardo is set for a parole hearing today. The designated dangerous offender, has been eligible for full parole for more than three years. Bernardo’s horrific crimes in the 1980s and early 1990s include for kidnapping, torturing and killing Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy near St. Catharines, Ont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Banning
Killer rapist Paul Bernardo faces parole hearing today; victim families opposed

Designated dangerous offender has been eligible for full parole for more than three years.

People look over the damage after a tornado touched down in Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal, Monday, June 21, 2021. Dozens of homes were damaged and one death has been confirmed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
One dead and extensive damage as tornado hits Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal

Damage reported in several parts of the city, and emergency teams dispatched to sectors hardest hit

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Most Read